FORT LAUDERDALE – Walmart is looking into the possibility of building a super store on 36 acres at the south corner of Broward Boulevard and Southwest 27th Avenue in Fort Lauderdale, according to an announcement from Broward Commissionr Dale V.C. Holness.
The announcement said officials of the world’s largest retail store, along with community and business leaders attended Holness’s monthly District 9 Economic Development and Job Creation Council on July 8, when the project was discussed.
The site would be for the Riverbend Marketplace, with a Walmart Supercenter as the anchor store. Before the project can swing into gear, the Broward County Commission will have to re-designate the property from medium-high residential to commercial.
Michelle Azelle Belaire, Walmart director of public affairs and government relations in Doral and Jonathan Nimrod, director of supplier diversity from the store’s corporate office in Bentonville, Ark., “spoke about economic opportunities” Walmart stores provide, according to the statement from Holness.
Others present at the meeting included Frank Gatlin, founder and CEO of Gatlin Development Company Inc., which is headquartered in Fort Lauderdale.
GDC will build Riverbend Marketplace and, according to Holness, Gatlin has pledged to hire local small and minority sub-contractors for the project.
Also in attendance was Brian Johnson, executive director of Broward County Minority Builders Coalition; Joe Toliver, vice president of community relations, Urban League of Broward County; Bobby Henry Sr., publisher of the Westside Gazette; and Burnadette Norris-Weeks, community activist and attorney.
“Not only am I looking for jobs that offer hourly wages; I want to ensure that there are opportunities for minority professionals, such as attorneys, accountants and public relations firms to be hired as well,” Holness said in the statement.
Holness said his support for the project will hinge on Walmart willingness to do business with minorities, including advertising in locally owned black newspapers and on radio stations.
“We shop there already and if minority consumers stopped spending their money at Walmart, there would be a serious loss in revenue for the company. Unless Walmart is willing to step up to the plate, I will not support the project,” Holness stated.